2011–The 75th Anniversary of GWTW, the book, based in part on writings from the Mitchell family scrapbook, shown above.
Two “Rhetts”from Gone With The Wind had the same birthday.
By Sally Tippett Rains, Author of The Making of a Masterpiece, the True Story of Margaret Mitchell and Gone With the Wind
Courtesy Kathleen Marcaccio…Did you know Clark Gable and Alicia Rhett shared the same birthday? 113 years ago on Feb. 1 the King of Hollywood who played Rhett Butler was born; and 99 years ago, Alicia Rhett who played India Wilkes made her debut into this world.
Did they celebrate their birthdays together during filming that started in January of 1939?
Probably not, remember she was discovered through George Cukor’s tour of the South, and Gable was at odds with Cukor who was fired about a month into production.
The characters of Rhett Butler and India Wilkes were in several of the same scenes but did not have any on-screen interaction between them. The first one was the Wilkes Barbecue. It was India who, with her father John Wilkes “received their guests” and greeted the O’Hara sisters as they stepped out of their carriage with their father.
At this point Rhett Butler has not arrived and he makes his grand entrance when Scarlett notices him from the top of the stairway:
Scarlett: Cathleen, who’s that man staring at us? The nasty dog.
Cathleen Calvert: Why that’s Rhett Butler, he’s from Charleston.
Scarlett: He looks as if he knows what I look like without my shimmy!
The guests mingle, the women take naps and Rhett Butler discusses the war with the men.
“I think it’s hard winning a war with words, gentlemen. . . . I’m saying very plainly that the Yankees are better equipped than we. . . . All we’ve got is cotton and slaves, and arrogance.”
And then he abruptly leaves after he realizes: “I seem to be spoiling everybody’s brandy and cigars and dreams of victory.”
Another scene they could have been together in is the wedding scene of Scarlett O’Hara and Charles Hamilton. Since India’s brother Ashley Wilkes’ wife Melanie’s brother Charles married Scarlett (did you get that?) she might have been on the guest list and could have wound up on the cutting room floor.
Rhett Butler and India Wilkes were both at the bazaar where Scarlett scandalized herself by dancing while she was supposed to be “in mourning”. They were also in the last scene together where India and Rhett waited along with Aunty Pitty, Ashley and son Beau, and Scarlett outside the bedroom where Melanie was dying.
The beginning scenes were directed by George Cukor and filmed around the February First birthday for Gable and Alicia Rhett. There was so much negativity surrounding Gable and Selznick regarding Cukor and then Cukor being replaced by Victor Fleming, it is doubtful there was much on-set celebrating around that time.
However, according to a friend of Rhett’s from Charleston, Alicia Rhett was very complimentary of Gable, “she told me Gable was ‘charming.'”
The first two months of 1939 were very tumultuous times for Gable as he was trying to divorce his wife Ria, who didn’t cooperate at first. He probably spent his birthday with Carole Lombard who he eventually wed in March that year– during a brief break he took from Gone With the Wind.
And chances are if Alicia Rhett had time to celebrate it would have been with her mother who had traveled with her from South Carolina to stay with her during the filming.
Celebrate Clark Gable and Alicia Rhett both by watching Gone With the Wind tonight (Sat. Feb. 11, 2014) on TCM.
Gone With the Wind fans can subscribe to this blog and for more information on The Making of a Masterpiece, the True Story of Margaret Mitchell and Gone With the Wind click here: http://www.GWTWBook.com